Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected.

Mental health matters

Factors that contribute to mental health problems

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Things to watch for
Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true

Learn more about behavioral conditions

  • Eating disorders - What to watch for if you suspect a loved one has an issue
  • Autism awareness - Autism affects how a child perceives and socializes with others. It can cause problems in crucial areas of development, like social interaction, communication and behavior.
  • Depression - Depression is a treatable disease that affects millions of Americans. Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide.

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